‘Hello again!’ Why customer loyalty is integral for hospitality merchants

By Chris Lanckbeen, Global Head Travel & Hospitality- GSV at Worldline

Welcoming back a familiar face as a hospitality merchant is as important as ever for business. Whether they are liked by staff or not, returning visitors are key to boosting revenue amidst a new era for payment infrastructure and solutions, which can provide more bespoke customer services, as countries free themselves from the shackles of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Indeed, the past 18 months have augmented a growing trend towards contactless payments among customers. This has driven down the traditional face-to-face check-ins and check-outs and necessitated hospitality merchants to implement efficient omnichannel payment capabilities alongside standardised EU regulations.

Integrated payments

A hassle-free visit to a travel destination or venue encourages the customer to return. But for this to happen, hospitality merchants must ensure payments are integrated across all of their systems.

Providing customers with an omnichannel experience, which allows them to start a booking and transaction online and finish it in person, at the hotel reception or wherever they are staying, goes a long way to ensuring they undergo a smooth, frictionless journey.

Within these experiences, customers should be able to pick up and put down different devices at different points of the transaction process, such as a mobile, tablet or laptop, without having to re-enter or duplicate information already entered into a portal.

Bespoke services

This all forms part of an enhanced stress-free experience hospitality merchants must provide to keep pace with their rivals and prevent customers checking in at other destinations.

Hotels should identify the customer at every stage of their stay. This includes individual preferences being noted on their systems, such as whether someone normally requests a room with a sea view, for example, to card details being saved from a previous visit.

Integrated payment solutions may also include DCC functionality (dynamic currency conversion), which is being requested by the customer more frequently, and allows an individual travelling abroad to see the cost of their accommodation in their home currency. This further lessens the need for the customer to think about money when they are away, which they don’t want to do.

A new relationship with OTAs

Consumers are far more digitally educated nowadays and as a result are conducting their own research before they book and go on a holiday. This trend was enhanced by the pandemic which made people more concerned about their destination and likely to get in touch with the hotel directly to pencil in their stay according to their preferences.

Consequently there’s been a decline in the use of online travel agencies , exemplified by the collapse of Thomas Cook. This heightens the need for hospitality stakeholders to acquire the right omnichannel capabilities to help ensure their customers have the tools at their disposal to book or re-book another holiday with them.

Regulations

Within payments infrastructure, merchants also need to be fully compliant with PSD2 and PCI DSS regulations. These standards help to combat fraud and constitute an integral piece of the hospitality wheel in the aftermath of Brexit.

About the author

Chris Lanckbeen joined Worldline in 2007 with 14 years of experience in business development. In 2017 he was selected to head up the Global Travel vertical business line and in 2019 the Global Hospitality department was added to his management portfolio.

Chris is passionate about companies and people that work hard and stay ahead of their personal transformation curve by maintaining integrity, ambition and social intelligence. His professional goal is to constantly motivate the dedicated teams that support the needs of our merchants through their individual transformation journey. This includes bringing people, businesses and technology together with a focus on digitalization and facilitation of day-to-day delivery in a post-Covid world.

Prior to his career at Worldline, Chris worked within the payments industry for 14 years with a small Belgian bank acquirer where he held a variety of sales roles. 

To find out more about Worldline’s hospitality solution, please visit: WL Hospitality Suite – Dedicated Payment Solution for Hospitality (worldline.com)